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River basin group expanding scope

River basin group expanding scope

Posted: Monday, November 3, 2008 7:36 pm

DYERSBURG (AP) — The West Tennessee River Basin Authority plans to expand its scope by joining efforts to improve habitat, recreation and access along the Mississippi River. The authority’s board of directors has voted to get involved with the Lower Mississippi River resource assessment being conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Congress authorized the assessment in 2000, and the Army corps has been proceeding as funding is provided. The assessment is designed to gather data needed for river-related management, habitat needs and river access and recreational uses. The basin authority has traditionally focused exclusively on West Tennessee rivers outside the Memphis metropolitan area. However, at the last board meeting, state Sen. Mark Norris of Collierville said Southern states are being accused of not protecting the Mississippi River from contamination. The river resource assessment covers 954 river miles of the Lower Mississippi River from its confluence with the Ohio River in Cairo, Ill., to the Gulf of Mexico, the corps said. Engineers and scientists are analyzing river reaches and adjacent floodplains of the Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley that have commercial navigation channels. “The river’s 2.7 million-acre leveed floodplain nearly equals the Florida Everglades in size and contains 1.6 floodplain lakes and 145 side channels encompassing more than 110,000 acres,” corps project manager Leighann Gipson said in a news release. “The Lower Mississippi River remains one of the most productive freshwater ecosystems in the world.” Another group, the Lower Mississippi Conservation Committee, is collaborating with the corps on the assessment. Also participating are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, seven states, conservation groups, businesses, levee districts and the public. ——— Information from: State Gazette, http://www.stategazette.com Published in The Messenger 11.03.08

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